Too few watching their tax dollars

Too few people take notice of decisions being made with their tax dollars.

Most, myself included, have all they can do managing day-to-day  obligations, let alone spending three hours twice a month to see what the city of Elk River is up to.

The recent $9.6 million spent on an “expanded city garage monolith” was a mistake, in my opinion. Contracting property tax revenues are an undeniable signal that the city is shrinking, not growing. There are 400 empty homes that end that debate.

I asked Councilman Zerwas why this unnecessary addition was done. His answer was that the project has been planned for many years, the city got a historically low interest rate on the bonds, and liquor store revenues paid $2.5 million of it.

So, we can build an unneeded super garage, spend $2.5 million of free and clear revenue, but can’t seem to find $200,000 for a skate park?

I am reminded of the scolding given to Elk River citizens by the previous mayor for complaining about no money left for fireworks, right after she OK’d half a million dollars for cobblestones around a bankrupt condo complex that nobody but she and the city council wanted.

After learning of the $9.6 million price tag, I considered how I would have spent that money; $2.5 million probably would have purchased two more wind turbines, which could have generated $100,000 a month in revenues, and paid for themselves inside of two years.

Instead, we now have a city debt of $52 million? (Page 88 2011 CAFR.)

Building bigger and better is wonderful news for contractors, not quite so good for taxpayers.

Lastly, where were all those shiny stainless steel sanding trucks  during the 1-11 ice storm? Do we have any money left to use them? — Mat Eicher Elk River